Reuters: Comcast Corp. announced this morning it would buy Time Warner Cable Inc. for $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal that combines the two largest U.S. cable operators. The friendly takeover comes as a surprise after months of public pursuit of Time Warner Cable by smaller rival Charter Communications Inc., and immediately raised questions as to whether it would pass the scrutiny of antitrust regulators. Comcast will pay $158.82 per share, which is roughly what Time Warner Cable demanded from Charter.

Reuters: U.S. retail sales fell unexpectedly in January and more Americans filed for jobless benefits last week, the latest signs that the economy started the year on softer footing as unseasonably cold weather took its toll. Large parts of the country have been gripped by freezing temperatures and snowstorms, which have been blamed for weak hiring over the past two months. Economists, however, are not worried yet and look for a rebound in the second quarter.

The New York Times: General Motors Co. is recalling about 619,000 small cars in the United States because either a heavy key ring or a "jarring event" such as running off the road could cause the ignition to shut off and possibly prevent the air bags from deploying in a crash. The vehicles affected by the recall are the 2007 Pontiac G5 and the 2005-7 Chevrolet Cobalt. In a separate news release, GM said it knew of six deaths in five crashes in which the front air bags did not deploy.